Family Assessment: Problems in Communication

There are certain cases when a person can not understand by him/herself that there is a need in professional medical help. This delusion is wide-spread when the problems are of psychological character and can not be evident to people who are used to such abnormal life style. In the current research a singly-parent family, where mother suffers from depression and child is living in constant stress will be described, and the ways to deal with the main problems will be proposed.

A family that was chosen for this assessment consists of a 25 years old single African-American mother (Mary) and her 4 years old son (John). A woman is the leader, the primary and the only provider of the family. Mary has immigrated to the US when she was 18 and her parents can not help her. The woman suffers from depression and does not want to be medically assisted, which results in her worsening attitude to her son. Mary is a full-time seamstress, the family is not poor, but there is money only for basic needs. The family is now on the stage of parenting. John is too small to take care of himself and to help his mother, and requires much attention (Baldwin, 2006, p. 105). Mary is tired of her son and his activity makes her nervous.

John experiences serious problems with socialization. As it was mentioned earlier, he is afraid of strangers. The boy has difficulties with communication with other children. It can be explained by the unhealthy atmosphere at home. Mary often shouts at her son and shows irritation with his actions very often. It is possible to assume that John does not accomplish tasks that are appropriate for his age. He has problems with speaking and is afraid of strangers. Mary considers her son to be her mistake, partly because he reminds her of broken relationships with her ex-boyfriend, partly because John is not talented enough to make her feel proud of his success.

The modes of communication in this family can not be called normal and effective. Mary often raises her voice when she speaks to her son. She tries to be authoritative so that John will be obedient, but instead of positive disciplinary results the boy is very nervous and lives under emotional pressure. He is too small to understand that his mother is tired and needs psychological help, and as the result thinks that mother does not love him, because he is worthless (McNair, 2005, p. 461). Though, there are no evidences of physical violence in this family, which is a positive issue.

Mary does not know whether she has any genetic predisposition to diseases. This issue is important in the current situation because it might make the roots of Mary’s depression clearer. Regardless the woman’s depression, both Mary and John do not need hospitalization and their physical health is normal. John has all needed vaccinations, because he attends the kindergarten (Anderson, 2015, p. 8). However, Mary does not have any of the immunizations and says that she is a healthy person and does not need them. It is possible to conclude that Mary does not believe in the medicine and so it is problematic to persuade her that therapy is not the waste of time and efforts (Berwick et al., 2001, p. 619).

The above evidences give the possibility to claim that the family is currently in the crisis. Mary concentrates on earning money in order to support the family, but she works hard and can not allow herself much. She does not have normal rest, because after work she needs to care about her little son. She also can not forget the relationships with John’s biological father, and she claims that her son reminds her of her ex-boyfriend. All these issues lead to Mary’s depression and at this stage of the crisis she does not want to change her life and deal with the problems.

There are three main problems that are related to the discussed family: Mary’s depression, John’s emotional state and development, and the relationships between the mother and the child. It is necessary to start from the primary problem, which is the depression. Mary does not want to visit the psychiatrist, because she does not consider her problem to be very serious. However, it might be possible to persuade her to attend the psychologist and at least to talk about her problems. It might be an efficient step to the improvement of the climate in the family.

The second problem derives from the first one. John is living in the continuous stress, and it prevents him from developing normally. One of the reasons of his communication problems is the assumption that he thinks that he is worthless and so his mother does not love him. This problem should be solved by his mother, who needs to show him that John is the unique and the beloved child. The third problem is the spoiled relationships within the family. They might start improving during working on the second problem connected with John’s self-esteem (Harrington, 2001, p. 53).

It is possible to assume that Mary will not be able to deal with depression and the crisis in the relationships with her child without professional medical help. Though, the woman does not want to discuss her problems with anyone. It is possible to assume that the conversations with the psychologist might become the external support the woman needs. With the help of the specialist she might determine the ways to deal with the problems, set the family goals, and finally improve her life.



Anderson, V. L. (2015). Promoting childhood immunizations. Elsevier Inc., 11, 1-10.


Baldwin, D. C. Jr. (2006). Two faces of professionalism. In K. Parsi & Sheehan, M. N. (eds.). Healing as vocation: A medical professional primer. Lanham, New York: Rowman & Littlefield.


Berwick, D., Davidoff, F., Hiatt, H., & Smith, R. (2001). Refining and implementing the Tavistock principles for everybody in health care. BMJ, 323, 616-620.


Harrington, R. (2001). Depression, suicide and deliberate self-harm in adolescence. British Medical Bulletin, 57, 47-60.


McNair, R. P. (2005). The case for educating health care students in professionalism as the core content of interprofessional education. Medical Education, 39, 456-464.

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